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SKIN TIP: How to Cleanse your Skin Like a Pro

Water is a beautiful thing. But when it comes to cleansing your skin, there is a ton that water alone can’t do. That’s why we use cleansers, which can dissolve and rinse away substances like oils and lipids that mere water can’t tackle. Here’s how it works: Most modern cleansers use surfactants. But what’s cool about surfactants is that one part lifts off oily impurities from your face, while the other part makes it rinse off easily with water. Boom! So now that we know how cleansers work – let’s get into some real talk about how to use them more effectively.

Use cool or cold water to clean your skin! I know, I know – it sounds shiver-inducing, especially in the winter. But cool water makes it less likely that lipids (aka the good stuff) will be washed away from within the skin. Also, using hot water can make the surfactants in your cleanser more irritating. And who wants that?

Use less cleanser! A cleanser doesn’t need to foam for it to work. Most cleansers contain between 15% to 30% surfactants, so there’s no need to use huge gobs of the stuff. I recommend just using a pea sized amount of the cleanser you are using.

Treat your skin afterward! Even water will remove some lipids from the surface of the skin, so it’s helpful to put on a moisturizer. And if you have oily skin, that might mean using a watery serum or gel.


Stephen Ko is a cosmetic chemist with almost a decade of experience. His first formulation was a red tinted conditioner for his mother, which later exploded. He now consults and develops skin care and cosmetic products and writes on his blog KindofStephen featuring #BeautyRecap a weekly digest of beauty industry news. Follow him on Reddit and Instagram.

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